Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Teaching at Toronto Baptist Seminary

This is probably a little weird to blog about, but I just finished grading papers for my Pastoral Theology II: Running a Baptist Church class and I got to thinking...
What a fantastic bunch of young men I have in this class. They are all eager, articulate, thoughtful, engaging and just plain fun to be around. We have had a great start to the semester talking about everything from how to structure your physical office to how to understand a budget.
One of the highlights so far was the role-playing of church member’s meetings where I invited the guys to be as disruptive as they liked! One by one they chaired the meeting and had to graciously handle being interrupted, corrected, challenged and detoured. Even though there was a lot of laughter throughout, there were also a lot of wheels turning as my brothers tried to think on their feet, implementing Biblical wisdom into difficult situations.
I guess what I like most though is the growing camaraderie amongst these men. There is nothing quite like a room full of spiritual men intent on becoming the best pastors they can be. Especially after our pre-class meeting at Starbucks!
Pray for us, won’t you? And ask the Lord to raise up these men and work his grace through them far beyond whatever you or them or I could ever imagine!


  1. I have the best of that class interning with us at our church. If half of them are as sharp as him then we should stop all the "sky is falling" talk.

  2. None of us are as sharp as him, Ken, but we're trying. :)

  3. Here, here, Kenny!

    I was about to say something about us "getting out of the way..." but they might read this!

  4. "talking about everything from how to structure your physical office..."

    This from the guy whose desk covers about 20% of his bookshelves and wants to use a Mac.

  5. Now wait a minute Challies...

    First... my desk is a table, so all my shelves remain perfectly accessible (you just have to go under).

    Second... you yourself (I am sorry to do this to you) have admitted that the Mac platform is far superior.

    Third... I am 6'8" (Okay, I don't know what that really has to do with anything... but it usually works as some kind of trump card!)

  6. I wish I took that class. The content I gleaned from our Timothy group is constantly practical for me right now. I'm always finding more 'growth areas' for me pastorally (to use a politically correct term which really means, enormous deficiencies).

    I hope your men cherish this kind of practical class that I never was blessed with in the classroom, but have learned bits and pieces only with contact with my pastor(s) and through reading of books.

  7. Is it the pastor's job to "run a church"? Ought the man we look to to be devoted to prayer, teaching and preaching be the one to chair the church members' meeting and deal with the crankiness that may ensue? Ought we to expect the pastor to understand the vagaries of budgets, financial statements and building plans, or look to deacons, men gifted and available to the church to deal with those matters?

    While recognizing that church plant situations have unique challenges ( and this may be the context for much of the thought expressed in this post ), do we want our pastors to be or act as CEOs of our local churches?

    I don't think the Bible teaches that to be so.

  8. Herodias -
    I find this comment of yours particularly odious!
    I think you miss the point entirely.
    OBVIOUSLY, a pastor needs to be a man of prayer, study, preaching, evangelism, counseling, etc. That is why we teach all of these things in the seminary. But there is a place for instruction in common wisdom. For instance, can a pastor effectively lead with the trust of the people if he cannot answer the simplest questions concerning how church finances are handled? I would suggest that hampers his ministry. He does not need (in fact I don't think he should!) to "do the books." But he must understand what they mean.
    I had no training in this regard in seminary (and I loved my seminary experience) but it gave me a lot to learn quickly when I was called to my first charge.
    Whether the church is a tiny plant of 10 people or a booming entity of 1000, I stand by my assertion that there are practical matters a pastor will do well to know and understand. As to whether or not the Bible teaches this, I suggest you read the book of Proverbs in the Old Testament. Although not aimed at pastors per se, there is much wisdom here that a pastor can apply to his ministry.
    Besides, you take aim at two little comments in my post and fail to see the rest of the topics we have or will soon covered. Things like how to perform a baptism by immersion, how to do pastoral visits, how to plan a funeral, how to do pre-marital counseling, how to minister to the sick and dying, etc.
    This is not only an excellent class but a necessary one!
    Just yesterday I spent time on the phone with a young pastor who said something to the effect of, "Now that I am in ministry I would do anything to have taken a class like that!"
    Men do not learn by osmosis - they need full-orbed training.
    Better, they need to trained in these things in the context of a local assembly... but how many pastors are actively meeting with and mentoring young men heading to the ministry? That shall be the subject of a future post.
    As for now... odious, Mr. Herodias! :-)

  9. Kerux:

    My comments were based on the contents of the original post, ie. which did NOT mention visits, funerals, pre-marital counseling etc...

    Why does the pastor NEED ( practically and/or Biblically speaking ) to answer even the "simpliest questions about church finances" or "understand what they mean" ?

    While Proverbs contains much wisdom for every humanoid, it hardly comments on Biblical roles and responsibilities within the local church. As per Romans 12:4-8 and 1 Cor 12, God gifts Christians within the church for that local assembly's welfare. Question about finances, ask Mr. Gifted Treasurer? Need to chair a meeting, call on Mr. Do-it-all-the-time-at-work, need to organize a fellowship event, call on Mr.&Mrs We-Open-our-home-often etc...

    We, the laity, odious or otherwise, foist responsibilities on our pastors which are not theirs and then wonder why some burnout. Quite frankly, I couldn't care less if my pastor knew diddly about the finances, that's not his job, Biblically or practically speaking.

    Your response brings up another point, should we be looking to bring YOUNG men into the ministry? Yes, Timothy was described by Paul as a youth, but how young was he? Folks I've heard teach on the passage say 35-40. Perhaps, we now seek to bring -young- men into pastoral situations without the requisite "life" experience. While you couldn't say it's prescriptive, I think it's with reason that Paul lays out the requirements of elders ( among other things of course ) as those who are married to one wife, who rule their own house well for how else will they know how to rule the house of God ( OH paraphrase ) etc...

    Do you think you do better marriage counseling now that you've been married for 37 years? Are you better able to counsel helpless parents ruled by their 2 year-old after raising 4 of your own kids? Are you better able to empathize and apply the Word having lived through some ups and downs of your own life?

    Herodias Less-Odious.

  10. Herodias,

    A pastor is to lead, along with all of his co-elders. A part of leadership is understanding finances.

    Case in point: 1 Timothy 3:4 "He must manage his own household well..." If a man is incapable of raising children and staying out of debt, then he ought not be an elder. How can he manage his own household if he does not know some things about personal finances? Does he have to manage the family books? No, but he is responsible for the well-being of his family under Providence. There is no question that this same ability to understand finances is necessary in church elders. If a fellow cannot understand the simplest principle of "spend less than you make," he won't lead his flock in a good direction. You are confusing the matter in your own mind. I am not saying for one second that the "Senior Pastor" is some whacked kind of CEO or CFO or CIO. Far from it! But a part of spiritual shepherding includes some very practical elements.
    One other thing - the majority of churches are congregations of under 100 people. That means that the more a man knows about some of these practical matters, the more he is able to train others to do them and the better off the church is. If we followed your logic, we would end up promoting shoddiness, ignorance and many other bad things.

    Age: I agree with you to a point. Most of the time I think a man needs some years under his belt, but the Bible does not forbid a young man from eldership, just a new convert.